Users happy with that will probably be very happy with everything else, for it’s difficult to better this model in terms of refinement, comfort, quality and technology, all delivered along with the kind of ownership and running costs that will play well in the practically-minded fleet market. In short, if you’re browsing in this segment, this A6 is, more than ever, a difficult car to ignore.
At the wheel of one of these, you’ll be wondering, as you probably will, just how much more luxurious something larger could really be. Brush your brogues against the throttle pedal and there’s a subdued rumble from somewhere up ahead that vanishes almost completely as you power underway.
That power is being directed through the front wheels, which might sound an obvious thing to say - until you stop and reflect on the fact that the A6 is the only significant player in the Executive segment that isn’t rear-driven. Enthusiasts will tell you of the disadvantage that gives the car in comparison to driver-orientated rivals like BMW’s 5 Series and Jaguar’s XF. But then cars of this sort aren’t aimed at enthusiasts but motorway-bound business folk. In any case, Audi counters with two key dynamic attributes its competitors can’t match. First, lighter weight – which always helps sharper handling: this car is around 70kgs less bulky than its rivals. And second, the option further up the range of quattro 4WD.
Time to talk engines, which in the mainstream line-up are exclusively diesel-powered these days. Though Audi does also offer a potent 4. 0 TFSI petrol turbo unit here, its use is restricted to the top sporting models, the 450PS S6 and the 560PS RS6. Otherwise, the choice lies between various versions of the familiar 3. 0-litre V6 TDI powerplant with or without quattro 4WD. Or the version that, as mentioned, the front-driven 190PS 2. 0 TDI, a car capable of a very reasonable turn of speed, 62mph from rest achievable in 8. 4s en route to 144mph.
According to Audi’s research clinics, A6 customers value understated exterior design above almost everything else – so they should feel right at home with the conservatively evolved looks of this improved fourth generation model. Whether you choose saloon or Avant estate, it’s smart, contemporary and as easily-recognisable as its predecessor. In fact, you’d really have to have owned the original version of this design to appreciate the subtle changes the brand has made here, all aimed at creating what’s supposed to be a more streamlined shape.
These mainly centre around a trademark single frame front grille that now looks wider, with six crisper corners and eight chromed struts for extra emphasis.
Upfront, there’s the usual luxurious blend of craftsmanship fused with technology in a cabin that, thanks to some judicious upgrades, now feels plusher than a 5 Series BMW’s, trendier than that of a Mercedes E-class and better built than a Jaguar XF’s. If you owned the original version of this car, you might notice the redesigned gear lever and the extra chrome detailing on elements like the air vent thumb wheels.
When it comes to efficiency figures, the returns are back on track at the top of the class, which in most cases enables this car to offer a small but significant fuel and CO2 advantage over its rivals. Enough in fact, to allow some users to get themselves the benefits of four wheel drive, without diverting too far from a reasonable set of running costs.
Yes, there are perhaps more characterful cars than this smart, efficient and perfectly mannered business conveyance – but it’s hard to think of a more complete or cost-effective choice in this sector. It’s all very vorsprung durch tecknik. And at the end of a very long day, you’re likely to feel that that’s what really matters.